Reviews for June 5th, 2013

Tengger Cavalry – The Expedition

My first review of 2013 was of Tengger Cavalry’s “Sunesu Cavalry.” I loved what I heard, and so I was very excited to recently receive the promo for their latest material. Tennger Cavalry is a Chinese folk/black metal band and they are back with their latest album, “The Expedition.”

What made “Sunesu Cavalry” so great for me was how they took traditional metal and black metal elements and fused them with Chinese folk music and Mongolian throat singing to create something I had never heard before in the world of metal. This combination of music and culture made for a truly refreshing and interesting listen.

Listening to “The Expedition” my immediate impression is that Tengger Cavalry is giving us more of the same, which is of course a good thing. Traditional Chinese instruments blend flawlessly alongside heavy guitars and drums and of course the Mongolian throat singing is still an element. Within the first few tracks my belief in Tengger Cavalry was reaffirmed.

I would have to pull up and listen to “Sunesu Cavalry” to be sure, but I feel like “The Expedition” might be featuring a better production than its predecessor. “Sunesu Cavalry” was fine from a production standpoint, but “The Expedition” just sounds like it might be a little bit more polished.

While looking for a song to include I became a little confused about Tengger Cavalry’s discography. The band has another album released back in February called “Black Steed.” The songs are listed in Chinese, but based on what I am finding on YouTube, I’m thinking “The Expedition” might be like the import version of “Black Steed”, possibly with extra or different tracks? I’m not really sure.

Anyway, here is the track “Cavalry in Thousands.” Make sure to check this band out.

Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn

Summoning is an Austrian atmospheric black metal band and “Old Mornings Dawn” is their seventh album.

Summoning has been making music for twenty years now, and not surprisingly they have a bit of a cult following for their fantasy/Tolkien themed black metal. My sister turned me on to these guys a number of years ago and I too count myself among their fans.

It has been a little over seven years since the last Summoning album, “Oath Bound.” As such I was pretty excited when I learned a new album was imminent. When I received the promo I could hardly wait to throw it on and have a listen. The album, unfortunately, was unable to live up to the hype I had built up in my anticipation.

Summoning has never been pristine and clear in the production department, so while I was hoping for a nice, clean production this time around, I wasn’t expecting as much. The clarity isn’t so much an issue on “Old Mornings Dawn” (though it could be improved), but rather my issue is with the instrumentation.

Unless a band is Dimmu Borgir, I’m not really expecting them to cough up the loot to hire a real orchestra. Keyboards are commonplace in symphonic and black metal music for adding grandiose elements and atmosphere. Usually these keyboards sound good enough to satisfy if not fool the listener. The keyboards on “Old Mornings Dawn” sound like a dude tapping out orchestra parts on a crappy little Casio. Some of the programmed drums are pretty hideous as well. I appreciate the band has been around a long time, and I respect that, and I love the type of music they are trying to create, but they need to invest in either better equipment or someone who knows how to give them a more believable production. This is actually embarrassing in places.

The album isn’t all bad. I can still enjoy some of it for what it is; the songwriting is great, it is the execution that falls short.

Here is the track “The White Tower.”

Cardinals Folly – Strange Conflicts of the Past

Cardinals Folly is a doom metal band from Helsinki, Finland and “Strange Conflicts of the Past” is their, um, well, I’m not exactly sure what to call it. I thought it was their second album, but it looks like it might actually be a compilation album, so I’m not sure how to label this one. The bio sheet I received seems to be for their last album, “Such Power is Dangerous!”, as it talks about the band’s first full-length. So who knows what this is supposed to be.

I might not have bothered with the album at all except that I did like their first album, and listening to “Strange Conflicts of the Past” I find I enjoy these songs as well.

The doom contained within this album is fairly traditional, though not all that slow. The vocals are clean and somewhat deep and remind me of a drunken monk trying to sing. You might think that wasn’t a good thing, but it actually sounds pretty alright.

Since I don’t know if these are old songs or new, it’s a little hard to say whether this is a step forward or back, so I’ll just stick with whether I like it and whether I can recommend the album. The songs have a slightly off-the-cuff feel which could be considered creative and organic, but could also be called sloppy. I prefer to think the former. All in all, I enjoy these songs and I think fans of doom metal would probably agree.

As always, you will have to be the final judge. Check out the track “The Right Hand of Doom” below.